Pics of Hugo at Bell Shakespeare, More Cloud Atlas coverage, Hobbit Week

Note: This is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

Cloud Atlas is still spaking a lot of debate and curiosity out there, so I’ll post another selection of review links. Also, Peter Jackson is revving early Hobbit promotion into high gear… only a couple more months until An Unexpected Journey premieres. Can you believe it? Indications so far are that it’ll be well worth the wait.

First, though, are a pair of intriguing new photos of Hugo at the opening night of Bell Shakespeare’s production of the John Webster play The Duchess of Malfi, taken this past July 13. They originated at photo galleries at The Daily Telegraph and the Wentworth Courier. John Webster was a Jacobean playwright who wrote dark, revenge-driven phantasmagoric plays a bit after Shakespeare’s time. Hugo starred in an STC adaptation of his The White Devil in 2000. John Bell, founder of Bell Shakespeare, costarred as Serebryakov in STC’s recent, blockbuster production of Uncle Vanya. Which was in rehearsals for its Lincoln Center Festival run when these were taken. This production was mounted at the Sydney Opera House and starred his daughter Lucy Bell. So we’re seeing a trend of acting dynasties in great Australian actors here. 😉

Photo:  Robin Amadio

Hugo and son Harry Greenwood
Photo: Richard Dobson

That second photo will probably make a few of you feel old… sorry about that. I remember when Harry was a little kid scurrying around in photos on the Matrix set. 😉

Another pair of photos from the Torionto International Film Festival premiere of Cloud Atlas have surfaced; alas, even Getty Photo mermbers can’t see these without watermarks unless they pony up. Pity, because they’re wonderful, earthy portraits.

Both: Jeff Vespa/Contour/Getty Images

I did manage to clean this one off a bit, though. 😉 If anyone has clean copies of the other two pics at WireImage of these two actors, please let me know! I do have an account there, but can’t access it. Probably related to my unending computer problems. 😉

Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant   Photo: Eric Charbonneau/WireImages

And Tom Hanks Online had three more group shots from the September 9 Photo Call which I hadn’t seen:

Rear L to R: Keith David, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, James D’Arcy, Halle Berry, David Gyasi, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant
Front L to R: Susan Sarandon, Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Tom Hanks, Jim Surgess, Zhou Xun

Here’s one of the promotional banners for the film:

Wish I could find a higher-res version, but that’s the best I could do for now. This time Jim Broadbent didn’t make the cut.. somehow Hugh Grant always does, though his roles are smaller. (Yes, that’s Korean Hugh Grant, aka Seer Rhee. You got a problem with that, take it up with Hugh. But I’ll warn you, he said he’s kept all his cannibal gear from the film.) 😉

New Reviews:

Philip Raby, Front Row Films:  “At the risk of inviting hoots of derision, and allowing for the fact that it is not my favourite genre, I firmly believe that Cloud Atlas is the greatest sci fi film of all time. I will explain why…. I don’t often see a film with 1400 people, most of whom have queued for hours to see a new film, and they may be more willing to love it than any old multiplex audience. But the fact is, not one left, we all laughed as well as thrilled, and everyone applauded at the end, including me. I loved the fact that the three directors (Tom Tykwer, Andy and Lana – formerly Larry – Wachowski) have taken on such a huge project and tackled it with verve, wit and panache. There are dazzling digital fight scenes, foot chases, comedy sequences, and binding it all together a system of editing that keeps us engrossed at the same time as keeping us in the loop as to where we are…. OK, so let’s talk about the Greatest Sci Fi Film Ever Made claim. My opening gambit is to ask what are the other contenders. I will deal with the obvious ones. Metropolis? Impressive, but hard work. 2001? Dated and pretentious. Blade Runner? Style over substance, full of rain and angst and Ford trying to look cool. Star Wars? I assume you’re joking. The thing about most sci fi is that it takes itself so seriously. There are two basic sci fi messages. 1. We are all doomed and 2. We are all one. Cloud Atlas tends more to the latter, but rather than heading off down the Terence Malick path of woozy spirituality, CA is a lot of fun.”

(For the record, I disagree with this guy’s assessments of 2001 and Metropolis, which are two of the greatest movies ever made. I do agree with him about the others. Can’t say where I’d place Cloud Atlas in this spectrum until I see it, but by Ray Bradbury’s definition, the entire work (film version or novel) can be categorized as science fiction: scifi isn’t defined primarily by zap guns, future settings or fantastical elements so much as speculation on how technology (and… uh… science) impacts the lives of those unprepared to deal with its ramifications, as well as the choices human beings are forced to make whehn confronted with change. The overarching plot of Cloud Atlas involves civilizations being corrupted and eventually laid waste by human greed and unregulated technological excesses; even in the earliest-dated segments, groups of people are threatened by more advanced societies. So the whole story is science fiction in a classic sense.

Anton Sirius, Ain’t It Cool News: ” The film hops back and forth between each story, gradually teasing out links between them, while also featuring nearly the same cast of actors in each playing sometimes wildly different roles. The result is not the confusing mishmash it might have been: each story and each time period is clearly distinct from each other in look and feel, and thanks to makeup, language and accent there’s never any confusion about who or what you’re seeing on screen…. That, alone, makes Cloud Atlas an impressive achievement, but there’s a lot more going on in it than just some nice plot-juggling. On a certain level it’s also a puzzle movie. Each story shows up as a story in the succeeding time period: the young composer, for instance, finds a torn copy of a book that purports to be a journal of that 1800s ocean voyage, while the aging publisher is sent a manuscript presenting the ’70s investigation as a crime novel. The entire film is also bookended by an old storyteller entertaining children around a fire. Those touches adds a nice bit of uncertainty to the proceedings, creating a smidge of doubt as to whether the stories are supposed to be ‘real’ or merely fictions within the larger fiction. There’s also a fun game of ‘spot the actor’ that goes on once you realize how the casting operates, as the roles of some very recognizable faces are not always obvious…. That uncertainty is actually necessary, because unfortunately the film felt just a little too simplified and straight-forward thematThe film’s strengths more than balance out those missteps though. In terms of cinematography and effects it looks amazing across all six time periods while still always feeling like one movie instead of six different ones, which is even more astounding when you consider the Wachowskis shot three segments and Tykwer shot three using two completely separate crews. The performances are for the most part very good (Jim Broadbent will never let you down, while of the supporting cast Hugh Grant of all people is tremendous) and certainly its themes are worthy ones, even if they get treated a bit shallowly.”

John C., One Movie Five Views: “Many thought that David Mitchell’s 2004 novel Cloud Atlas would be unfilmable, but directors Andy and Lana Wachowski along with Tom Tykwer have proven them wrong with this epic adaptation.  With a top notch cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and Jim Sturgess among others, the film spans a thousand years as we watch the souls of the characters morph from heroes to villain and how one mistake or act of kindness ripples through generations.  The great cast of actors convincingly play multiple roles and the closing credits are sure to make you gasp as we realize just who played the many different characters with the help of stunning makeup.  At first we have to pay attention see the connections between the stories, allowing the film to play almost like a mystery as it all brilliantly comes together and builds up to something deep and profoundly thought out.  A bold and ambitious piece of filmmaking, Cloud Atlas demands more than one viewing, asking the audience to pay attention but offering a hugely satisfying pay off in return.”

Battle Creek Enquirer: “Imagine Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov writing their own versions of “The Hours,” then consolidating them into a single screenplay. That will give you a vague idea of what to expect from this head-spinning, time-jumping, astoundingly ambitious epic, which casts Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon and Hugo Weaving in multiple roles in stories that unfold in the Pacific Islands in 1894, in 1973 San Francisco, in 2012 London, in 1936 England and in the far future. Based on David Mitchell’s novel, the film speculates that there are links between every era and that one person’s actions, good or bad, can alter the destiny of someone decades later. Reactions were all over the place, with a few proclaiming it a masterpiece and others deeming it a laughable fiasco; amazingly, you can see both points of view. Portions of the movie fall absolutely flat (especially a sequence set in a post-apocalyptic society in which Hanks and Berry have to speak a language that sounds sort of like Shakespearean Hillbilly) while others are exciting, clever and visually arresting. If nothing else, “Cloud Atlas” will certainly prompt some lively post-show conversations.”

Interesting how several critics contend some sequences are better than others, but no one agrees on which ones “don’t work”. 😉

Hilary Butler, Filmoria: “The actors of Cloud Atlas, and there are more than a few, were given the very unique opportunity to play multiple roles within the same movie, as most have some part, no matter how big or small, within every story. Using the stellar make-up and costumes (which will inevitably get an Oscar nod) they were able to transcend race, age and even gender. It must have been a dream come true for them, and some look like they have more than their fair share of fun (case in point, Hugo Weaving). However, Jim Broadbent probably fares best, his main story gathering a rousing applause by the audience at its climax, as he changes characters seamlessly despite the least amount of make-up to hide behind. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are probably the most in focus though, and to be able to act along with the difficult dialect required in their futuristic setting is a feat unto itself. It certainly helps to maintain the devotion to the source material. However, in essence, there is not a bad performance in the large group of actors assembled here…. On that note, it should be said that this review comes from someone that has read the novel, quite recently in fact, and it would be my recommendation to read the book before you see the film. While the jumping around in time can take some getting used to, at least having read the source material you can see where the filmmakers are going. I can understand that without this guidance, the film could be muddled and confusing, a contributing factor, I’m sure, to its few detractors. This is a film that begs to be enjoyed. It’s part art-house, part blockbuster, so doing a bit of research before you enter will ensure you get the most from the movie… It was said that this was a film that would never be able to be made, a vision of how our souls are shaped through time. But, the directors made the impossible, possible. They blend together the stories from different eras and genres with relative ease. Comedy, drama, and sci-fi all exist here in almost perfect harmony. It is, quite simply, a cinematic accomplishment.”

Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage: “Mitchell’s novel is full of lofty insights distilled here in way that aligns tonal similarities together. Imprisonment, escape, action, drama, and comedy exist in each of the six stories, growing stronger alongside their partners’ equally emotive shift. Epiphanies occur simultaneously and yet decades apart. Mankind is always left for dead and yet able to rise to the occasion when necessary. The phrase “the weak are meat and the strong do eat” comes up often and it is very apt when concerning the themes of slavery and power running rampant, but what the strong don’t realize until too late is how the weak won’t stay prone forever. Eventually they’ll have a spark of recognition to act legally, illegally, morally, or amorally. Retribution and justice will be served and the cycle will restart… As such, it’s a brilliant move using the same actors in each component. Alluding to reincarnation, soul transfers, and the like, I never thought the familiar faces hindered the whole once. People in the audience complained about feeling it was like someone was flipping the channels on them, but to me every transition was thematically relevant. We cross between timelines at precise moments to strengthen what came before and what comes next. The emotional impact couldn’t be the same if told linearly. We need the mixed bits and pieces to understand the optimism for the future otherwise hidden beneath the depression and tragedy… There’s more at play than what the surface reveals and you must give into the artifice to let the spectacle consume you and help explain how these souls are passed into new bodies and new lives.  A”

Brandon Wall-Fudge, Sanctuary Review: “Many claimed it as one of the many “unfilmable” literary works. But alas, the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer didn’t listen to naysayers and, for the most part, we should be glad they didn’t… The cast of Cloud Atlas is expansive, but many actors are used for multiple roles.  It may seem like a confusing concept, but seeing as the film is a time jumping tale of intertwining stories, the recurring cast seems perfectly fitting.  With such a large cast, it may be difficult to pinpoint who brings what to the film, but Cloud Atlas certainly has one standout.  Tom Hanks brings the most versatile performance to Cloud Atlas. ..Cloud Atlas has a nice balance of action and story.  The time jumping, genre blending epic works well for the most part, although it does confuse a bit near its start.  Aside from the problems with the CGI, the film does have a fair bit to offer.”

There’s also a brief primer on the novel’s structure ansd themes (and confirmation that Hugo has indeed been cast as Horrox in the Adam Ewing sequence of the film) at Tom McGee’s blog, one of the more enlightened assessments of the casting choices (and why it’s not “a gimmick”) at, More on Halle Berry’s characters (and some quotes from various TIFF press conferences and interviews) at Books N Review,  a profile of Bae Doona, who has one of the most universally lauded performances in the film as Sonmi-451, and Chosun Ilbo (English),  and a new Susan Sarandon interview with more enthusiasm for Cloud Atlas at Indie Wire.

Finally, as I hinted up front, it’s officially Hobbit Week (according to Peter Jackson, anyhow) and we’ve been treated to another batch of new stills from the first film, including the first image of Sylvester McCoy’s Radagast the Brown, more dwarf action, Gollum and Gandalf. No new Hugo material for awhile now, but we all knew going in that Elrond isn’t a major character in The Hobbit, so we’ll have to wait and see how much supplemental material he’ll get to flesh out in films 2 and three. Go to Empire Online, Screen Rant, Radio Times and (of course) TORN for a look at the new images… there have actually been several batches this month. But the most exciting news is probably that we’ll finally have an official trailer for An Unexpected Journey on September 19, ie in two days, plus “special content for the fans”. (Oooooh!) 😉 (The first trailer was technically a “teaser”, assembled before the film was complete.) Here’s PJ’s announcement… let’s hope we finaly get to see Elrond footage this time around!

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